Tennis

Fed Cup: Slovakia beats Serbia 3-1

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NIS, Serbia (AP)

Daniela Hantuchova defeated Vesna Dolonc 6-3, 6-2 to secure a 3-1 victory for Slovakia over Serbia in the first round of the Fed Cup and a place in the semifinals against Russia, which beat Japan on Sunday.

Hantuchova cruised to victory against little-known Dolonc, who served well and fought hard but could not match the much more experienced Slovak player.

Hantuchova broke early in the first set and kept the lead. Dolonc managed to hold serve in the first four games of the second set, but Hantuchova then took the lead, closing with a break on match point when Dolonc's forehand landed beyond the baseline.

Earlier Jana Cepelova rallied to defeat Bojana Jovanovski 5-7, 7-5, 11-9.

The 98th-ranked Cepelova, who replaced Dominika Cibulkova in the reverse singles, repeatedly exchanged breaks with Jovanovski who played with a back injury in a match that lasted more than three hours.

''I am grateful to our coach for chosing me,'' Cepelova said. ''It was a tough match and I had to fight for each point.''

Jovanovski said that her back hurt even more after the match, but that ''I am not sorry I played.''

''Each serve hurt like a knife,'' she said, adding that she won't take part in the touranments in Doha and Dubai. ''But I fought, I hope we will have more luck next time.''

Jovanovski saved two match points in the third set before Cepelova converted the third.

On Saturday, Cibulkova retired hurt with a leg muscle strain while leading her singles match against Dolonc.

Serbia is missing leading players Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic because of injuries.

Slovakia will travel to Russia for the semifinals on April 20-21. Russia beat Japan 3-2.

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